Lessons Learned From Playing in the Yard

By Nancy Jane Moore

1. Birds are unpredictable.

bird feeder fullMy sister gave me this great bird feeder and told me to use black sunflower seeds in it. I couldĀ bird feeder emptyonly find a ten-pound bag. “Goodness,” I thought, “I’ll never use that up.” Wrong. I’m going to be lucky if I don’t have to buy another bag by August 1.

The first time I filled it, the birds took a week to go through all the seeds. After I refilled it, there was a feeding frenzy and all the seeds disappeared in 24 hours. I waited a few days and filled it again. This time it took three and half days for the birds to eat all the seeds.

A storm blew in shortly after the feeding frenzy, bringing rain (Hooray!) and winds. I wonder if the birds could feel it coming and were stocking up that day. Maybe I’ll find a pattern if I keep feeding and watching.

2. Squirrels, on the other hand, are very predictable.

squirrel at bird feederI’m proud to announce that, as advertised, the feeder is squirrel-proof. But that doesn’t stop the squirrels from trying. This guy devoted at least an hour to trying to find a way in. He fell to the ground when I came out to take his picture, but was soon scampering back up the tree and jumping back down onto the feeder.

When there are several smaller birds at the feeder, the grackles and doves make a circle on the ground around it, waiting for something to drop. There’s usually a squirrel in that circle, also looking to scarf up the dropped food.

It’s OK with me if the squirrels get the occasional seed this way, as long as they can’t eat me and the birds out of house and home. But if the squirrels get into my tomatoes when they start coming in, there’s going to be hell to pay.

3. It may not be wise to encourage birds in your yard when your neighbors have nine (very well cared for) cats, one of whom is youthful and feeling his oats. I think these feathers near my vegetable garden came from a dove, but as the carcass had been fully devoured before I found them, I’m not completely sure.

bird feathers

Here’s the culprit: Nacho, who is otherwise a charming and friendly cat.


4. No matter how careful you are when you move a prickly pear, you will get tiny, invisible spines in your fingers.

prickly pear

5. When you move into a place where the former owner obviously did a lot of gardening, wait awhile before pulling things up. I’ve discovered some lovely wildflowers growing among the weeds,


And a trumpet vine growing along the fence.

trumpet vine

6. And lastly, no matter how bad the drought has been (and it’s been very bad here), most weeds just need the slightest bit of rain to pop out. Meaning that I’m going to have to mow the lawn very soon. Especially since it just started to rain again.



Posted in Animals, cats permalink

About Nancy Jane Moore

Nancy Jane Moore's science fiction novel, The Weave, is now available in print and ebook versions from Aqueduct Press. Some of her short stories are now appearing as reprints on Curious Fictions. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe. Her BVC ebooks can be found here. She also has short stories and essays in most of the BVC anthologies. In addition to writing fiction, Nancy Jane, who has a fourth degree black belt in Aikido, teaches empowerment self defense. She is at work on a self defense book that emphasizes non-fighting skills.


Lessons Learned From Playing in the Yard — 6 Comments

  1. If there are cats, it is important to hang the feeder where the birds can’t be ambushed. Due to a home renovation I had to move my suet feeder this summer to a less ideal location, and the birds have never returned. Must figure out a new place for it.

  2. We have to pull the feeders in summer because the bear think the feeder is desert to the meal of seeds. We put them out again around Thanksgiving when the bears have gone night night. The deer have been known to climb onto the deck to eat. Not 8 tiny reindeer stepping lightly on the roof. Black tails have hard hooves and clomp.

    Our squirrels — big red fox squirrels have pliers in their paws and rip through the sturdiest feeders. They are also greedy and territorial. No one else gets near the feeders when its time for squirrel dinner.

    Have with your critters. We sure do.

  3. More than once the squirrels stole the suet cage outright. Once I found the plundered cage out in the yard; the second time it never returned. (Image of Yoda Squirrel, angrily berating the padawans: “Leave it out, and refill it she will! No lunch for us, if you take it away!”)

  4. That model of birdfeeder is awesomely squirrel-proof. I’m baffled that anyone buys any other kind of feeder! While the squirrels can’t get into it, they try again & again.

    • I bought a cheap plastic bird feeder to hand on an old clothesline pole in the back yard, figuring the squirrels couldn’t climb the pole. That seems to be true, but either wind or some other form of buffeting already broke the plastic handle holding it up. I think I can figure out how to re-hang it with wire, but it probably isn’t going to last long.